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Mad Cow Disease (BSE)

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), popularly referred to as mad cow disease, has caused such global controversy that one might expect it to be clearly proven as a very contagious and deadly human disease, but this expectation is far from true. Worldwide, fewer than 200 human cases have been blamed on infection with the BSE agent. Infection is thought to cause a human disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The human vCJD illness is somewhat different from the previously recognized classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Those affected with vCJD are younger, with a median age of 28 years (versus 68 years for CJD); the duration of illness is about twice as long at 13 to 14 months (versus 4–5 months for CJD); and patients exhibit more prominent ...

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